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15 killed by storms in Tennessee, Mississippi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Devastating weekend thunderstorms slammed Tennessee and northern Mississippi, killing at least 15 people, five in Nashville, and closing scores of highways.

Thousands were evacuated and hundreds of others rescued from their homes, some plucked from rooftops, as floodwaters from swollen rivers inundated neighborhoods across the region. Hospitals, schools and state buildings were flooded.

Firefighters busted through the windows of Audrey Talley's trailer early yesterday to rescue her family, including her three small grandchildren, ages 9 months to 4 years old. Talley's son woke her up to tell her water was coming into the trailer in south Nashville. Within 10 minutes it was knee-deep.

"We've lost everything," Talley, 47, said at an emergency shelter at Lipscomb University. "I don't know what we're going to do. We've got nowhere to go."

Tennessee officials said the flooding is as bad as they've seen since the mid-1970s. Tornadoes or high winds killed at least four people, unexpected flash floods swept some unsuspecting residents to their deaths and an untold number of homes were flooded as urban drainage systems and watersheds struggled to remove the deluge.

More than 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville in two days, nearly doubling the previous record of 6.68 inches that fell in the wake of Hurricane Fredrick in 1979.

Eleven were dead in Tennessee and four in northern Mississippi. The death toll from storms in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee since April 24 has risen to at least 26 with several people missing.

Three people in Mississippi were killed when tornadoes hit their homes and a fourth died after he drove into floodwaters.

- AP

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